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Deritend Library

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In the beginning

Inside Deritend Library

The third free district library to open in Birmingham was in Deritend, in Heath Mill Lane. It opened on 26th October 1866. However this was not a grand opening, as the new Central Reference Library opened on the same day. Constitution Hill district library had opened in 1861, and the Central Lending library in September 1865.


The Annual Report in 1867 showed how successful Deritend Library had been in the first seventeen months. About 450 people used the newsroom each day. There they could read the Birmingham Daily Gazette, the Birmingham Daily Post, the Daily Telegraph, the Morning Star, the Standard or the Times. 2113 people had registered to borrow books, over half of them being under 20 years old.

Deritend Library staff

Deritend Library 1910


The library had re-opened in 1898 after enlargement. In 1910, like the other lending libraries, it was open from 10 am until 9pm each day. The librarian at that time was A.T.Hancox.

The catalogue is advertised because for many years readers had no direct access to the books, but had to make a request to the librarian. The first library in Birmingham to allow readers to take books off the shelves was Northfield in October 1914, when it re-opened after having been burnt down by suffragettes in February 1914. Originally this was because there was a small bookstock; at Constitution Hill when it first opened all of the 3,000 volumes went out again as soon as they came in.


Deritend Library closed in 1940. In 2003 it was opened as a conference centre and exhibition space - part of the Custard Factory. It is the only building of the original five free Birmingham libraries still standing.

Adderley Park Library
Constitution Hill Library
Gosta Green Library
The first Birmingham Central Library
A Brief History of Birmingham Central Library
History of Spring Hill Library
History of Kings Norton Library
Sparkhill Library - the History of the Building